Troy Chaplin

Design & Development

Posted in the Blog

Three Years and Counting: A Look Back at the Evolving Design of My Portfolio and Blog

Over the last three years I’ve constantly redesigned this site with the main focus of learning new ways to bring out powerful functionality from the ever-evolving open source platform, WordPress. Only a small handful of these designs ever saw the light of day as I was never quite happy with the end result, or when I was near completion I would find a new way to do something more efficiently as the possibilities grew with each new release of WordPress. The following is a little preview of some of the design work that has been put into the site over the last three years, skipping a few version that were never fully visualized.

Version 1: August 2009

My very first design of this site, complete with portfolio screenshots displayed on Apple hardware, a common occurrence around this time. I learned a lot about WordPress while developing this one, but it never saw the light of day outside of a local development environment.

Version 2

Although there are some extremely basic design files for this version, they are quite bare and lacking in areas. I contemplated adding them, but decided against it.

Version 3: December 2009

The third iteration of my site, and the first one to make it to a live version. A lot of work and learning happened while trying to finds new and better ways to handle image galleries within WordPress. If I remember correctly the NextGen Gallery plugin was being used here.

Version 4: April 2010

This design came about after designing the logo itself. I wanted something considerably lighter than my past designs, but after a while I felt that I over killed the paint splashes and never took the design into a development area.

Version 5: May 2010

After learning more about variable excerpt lengths based on post title character counts I did this dark design, allowing for more posts to be visible by flowing them in a 2 column layout. The original idea here was to have a theme switcher for users, allowing them to browse using this theme, or the one shown in version 6.

Version 6: July 2010

A variation of version 5 that would have been 1 of 2 theme switcher options for users visiting my site. This design was fully developed and used to power this site for a while, however I never implemented the theme switcher option as I wanted to.

Version 7: October 2010

I would venture to guess that this design has had the most work put into it, and every now and then as I look through these past design I seem to want to refine it and actually use it for the site, however I don’t think I have a sufficient amount of content to do it justice. Given that it’s been two years since I designed this one and still like it, I may go back and touch it up, build in some nice user options and release it as a free theme.

Version 8: January 2011

This design was intended to be something fairly clean and easy to read while incorporating some grunge elements. This design powered my site for the last year and a bit, but I failed to continue to evolve it, and add new work items and content.

Version 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14 & 15: September 2011 – March 2012

The next seven version of my design are all quite similar to one another, mostly minor tweeks here and there, and sometimes changing between a light color scheme, to a dark one. I continued to modify the look of this one until I felt completely happy with it, then I could focus on adding more to my growing portfolio as well as blog about all the things I’ve learned about developing for WordPress along the way.

Version 9a

Version 9b

Version 10

Version 11

Version 12

Version 13

Version 14

Version 15

Version 16: April 2012

After being so close to completing and launching version 15 I had the idea to reduce the width of the content area and add a floating navigation, so this design came about. This was designed and developed in about a weeks time. I really liked the work and blog sections of the site, but struggled with the homepage, and as I was working on that design, the current version of my site came about.

Version 17

This is the current version of the site that you are now browsing. This one came out of nowhere, it originally started as redesign of the homepage of version 16. I moved the navigation back into the header, reduced the width of the content area to 840px, and have the header element float down the page as a user navigates through. Different than designs of the past, I started with the homepage, as this was an area that I always had difficulty with in the past as I always left it until the end. For the first time in a long time I am completely happy with how this theme came out, and have plans on adding new elements and evolving the site over time, especially as the content grows.

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